As we can see, digital illustration is quite a large field that covers many different types of media. This includes creating illustrations in programs like Photoshop or Adobe InDesign, designing logos in software such as Indesign, Figma, or Procreate, graphic design via computerized tools such as Coral Draw, Sketch, or PowerPoint, and even creating interactive experiences using things like HTML5 and JavaScript.

While most people associate art with painting, drawing, or sculpting, all three of these disciplines are characterized by their use of shape, line, color, and texture. Artists have been incorporating technology into their work for centuries, making it an integral part of their craft.

Technology has made it possible to produce creative content quickly and efficiently, which is why you so often see computer generated imagery (CGI) being used in films and television shows!

Digital artists must also be experienced in other artistic mediums. For example, someone who is very skilled at depicting landscapes could incorporate those skills into something like CGI ocean waves.

Furthermore, since almost everything online now requires images to function properly, there are lots of opportunities to create new designs and get inspiration from them.

What is graphic design?

digital illustration and graphic design

A lot of people assume that when they say “design” something, that they are talking about aesthetics. They believe that whenever someone says “design” what they really mean is beautiful pictures or logos. This isn’t always the case though!

While it is true that creating aesthetically pleasing images is an integral part of being a designer, this is only half the picture. The other half is how to use information efficiently to convey messages for businesses.

That’s not to say that having great visuals isn’t important, but knowing how to apply graphics to tell stories is just as significant (if not more) than knowing how to create eye-catching designs.

This article will go into detail about all aspects of digital illustration, including:

What is illustrative writing?

Logo concepts

Business illustrations

Graphics for websites, apps, and blogs

Market research

Illustrations can play an important role in telling your story. When done well, they keep things simple, elegant, and focused on the message.

Different types of digital illustration

digital illustration and graphic design

There are several different styles of digital illustration, or what people call “illustration”. Some artists use illustrations as a way to create their own style, developing new techniques and experimenting with new materials and color schemes.

Some artists only include very few illustrations in their work, while others design entire compilations of logos, posters, and other marketing material using this technique.

We will go over some basic definitions of each type of illustration and how they relate to each other here!

Digital still life

A still life is an art form that involves depicting natural objects such as fruits and vegetables, flowers, and other non-human items.

Still lifes typically feature one or more main objects along with supporting details. These can be organized into categories such as plants, food, and human made products.

Artists who practice still life often spend time gathering reference and studying nature before creating their pieces.

Animals are also a common element used for still lives. For example, an artist may depict a bottle, brush, and leaf set together to make a picture of a dog drinking water.

Animals are a popular genre in illustrative artwork, so not all still lifes are completely devoid of animals.

Certain animal breeds appeal more than others, however. A famous painter was known for incorporating certain breed patterns and shapes into his still life paintings. Pablo Picasso is a well-known artist whose works incorporated this concept.

Different types of graphic design

digital illustration and graphic design

As with any form of art, there are many ways to be creative with graphics. They are categorized into different fields or areas. Some examples of these are typography (or type designing), illustration, photography, painting, sculpture, and more.

Illustration is one of the most popular forms of graphic design that involves depicting scenes and characters using pictures. This is not limited to still images, some designs use animated illustrations or video as part of their work.

When it comes down to it, whatever genre you choose to experiment in, your creativity will grow! There are limitless possibilities once you get the hang of it.

Typographic style layouts and posters are other examples of illustrative design. Both depend heavily on well-designed letters and fonts for aesthetic appeal.

Planning out what kind of artwork to create depends mostly on the project. If the project calls for an abstract piece, then maybe do something like take a picture or find inspiration from nature. For more conceptual projects, thinking about how things relate to each other can help inspire new pieces.

Color in digital illustration

digital illustration and graphic design

In color theory, there are two main colors that make up what we refer to as “warm” colors and “cool” colors. Warm colors contain shades of red, orange, yellow, and brown whereas cool colors consist of shades of green, blue, indigo, and violet.

By defining the boundaries of these colors, your artist can use them effectively to convey moods or messages. For example, using very little amount of red in an image may create an intensity effect. Or adding lots of green may emphasize nature.

On the other hand, leaving areas of the canvas white or totally blank may focus the viewer’s attention on something else. These concepts apply not only to illustrations but also to graphic design.

Using the right software

digital illustration and graphic design

There are many free, easy to use drawing softwares available that do not cost a lot of money. Most of these have features such as you can create your own style, you get automatic shape filling, and you can edit textures and colors easily.

Some examples of this are Adobe Photoshop or GIMP which both offer very similar functions but with different interface layouts. They both have drag-and-drop feature where you can add shapes and elements into your design quickly. Both also have tools for colorizing and replacing parts of images so they don’t look totally fake!

These types of apps let you test out your designs before investing in more expensive ones so it is good to be familiar with them. Many people start off using free versions and then move up to paid ones if they like what they see!

There are also advanced graphics designing programs such as photoshop that are way too hard to use unless you already know how to use it.

Understanding your clients

digital illustration and graphic design

As mentioned before, creating great illustrations depends heavily on who you are as an artist and what types of styles and messages you want to convey. If you are not clear on these things, your artistic style will likely suffer!

As artists, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to improve our craft, but few give much thought to why we should actually care about improving it in the first place. Why do we need to strive to make beautiful artwork?

It is hard to argue with the success that skilled illustrators have had – their work has been admired and collected for its beauty for decades now. But while this may be true, it is only half of the picture. The other important factor is whether those pieces inspired action or not.

Illustrations that hang on the wall and look pretty can inspire awe, but they must be more than just decorations if they hope to achieve something beyond this.

A well designed piece of advertising must grab someone’s attention, get them to invest some time in understanding the product or service it represents, and eventually motivate them to take action. It is this final goal — action — that most advertisements fail to meet.

Creating a mood

A lot of people talk about how important it is to use strong colors in marketing, but what they fail to mention is that your color scheme should match one thing and one thing only- the mood or theme you want to convey.

This is very common in fashion — think all white clothing for winter or neon pink clothes with flashing lights for spring and summer.

If you look at most brands’ logos, you will see simple geometric shapes surrounded by bright, flashy coloring. This matching pattern comes from visual psychology.

When we perceive something as familiar, we subconsciously associate it with other things related to that concept. For example, if there was a circle shape everywhere you looked, then there would be no need to draw anything else – everything would just become a circle!

That is why when artists create their own style, they usually stick to using circles, squares, or triangles as main shapes. These are easily identifiable and depend on your audience, so they feel connected to you. It is also easy to replicate.

By incorporating this into your design, others can imitate the style and it may even inspire new designers.

Using shapes

digital illustration and graphic design

Shapes are a powerful tool in digital illustration. They can be used to create almost anything! Most major design platforms have a pack of shape tools that you can use to make your designs more rich.

Some examples include squares, circles, ovals, triangles, rectangles, hearts, arrows, florals, characters, and so on. The best way to learn how to use them is by doing!

There are many free resources available online with easy tutorials for virtually every shape type. You can also find lots of free vector graphics or royalty-free pictures and images from sites like Pixabay and Unsplash.

Shapes are one of the most fundamental parts of graphic designing.


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